Volunteer in Children’s Homes in the Yucatan
Volunteers can work with an orphanage or at a child welfare organization in the city of Merida or in one of the Mayan Villages around the Yucatán. The children come from a variety of situations including loss of one or both parents, physical and sexual abuse and extreme poverty. Some of these children are in the orphanage on a temporary basis and others stay until they reach the age of 18. The orphanage provides shelter, education and all the child's basic needs.
There are two types of centers, the Casa Cuna receives children from birth to 6 and provides basic care for boys and girls that are being abandoned, neglected or are waiting for adoption. Volunteers will spend time with the children leading activities and games, helping at meal times, and teaching basic skills to the children. Volunteers are welcome to assist with the children's daily activities and with chores around the center. The second type of center is the Casas Hogares for children ages 6-18 where the children are divided into Boys Homes and Girls Homes. The children in this home are looking for shelter and are referred by other organizations or sent by their family when they are unable to take care of them. Volunteer will spend time with the kids, playing games, leading social and cultural activities, teaching, and giving them the attention they need. Participants are welcome to get involved with sports or art activities and act as role models and positive influences for these kids. Please, keep in mind that this position requires a basic to intermediate level of Spanish, especially in the rural areas, where only Spanish and Mayan dialects are spoken.
ELI partners with a variety of grassroots organizations aimed to improve the lives of indigenous communities in the Yucatan Peninsula. Projects try to address social and environmental needs, infrastructure and community education. Volunteers with or without a professional background can participate in a combination of projects during their program.
Eco-Tourism: Tourism is a recent industry in this region, which is enabling families to increase their income and their potential to succeed. Participants join the indigenous community and work together maintaining trails, receiving visitors and promoting activities around the parks.
Education: Volunteers are welcome to participate in educational activities with children and teenagers in order to give them skills that would allow them to thrive inside their communities. Participants can teach English, computers, sports, arts or other skills.The work with children can be combined with other activities inside the community.
Agriculture: Most communities grow their own food in their back yards using sustainable methods of agriculture. Volunteers can assist the community with planting, harvesting and implementing sustainable irrigation systems.
There is an option to work in a Honey Farm located 18 km from Mérida. Volunteers in this project can assist the bee keepers, collecting honey, making soap and helping with the elaboration of marketing materials to promote these artisanal products.
Sustainable Development: Other activities inside the Mayan communities involve the construction of energy efficient stoves, improvement of infrastructure around the community, cultural education and outreach.
*Accommodations for these programs may vary. Please inquire for details and extra fees.
Internships in Sustainable Development
This is a unique opportunity for students, professionals and experts who want to use their knowledge and skills to help indigenous communities in the western region of the Yucatan. These positions require a minimum commitment of 3 months.
Interns are assigned a project based on their skills and work closely with the host community. Currently these projects are in the areas of Conservation, Community Development and Microfinance.
The main objective is to promote the social, economic and environmental development of rural and indigenous communities, so they can make good use of natural resources and strengthen their culture and social integrity.
Participants must have an intermediate to advanced level of Spanish, be flexible, and respect the needs of the local community.
International Trade for Small Businesses
If you are interested in how government can provide financial services to low income or small business owners and give them access to loans, marketing tools, and education to help them grow, this placement is ideal. ELI works with the small business agency of the Yucatán state that helps small businesses to position their products in the international market and promote the trade of local products. Interns in this program can work in a wide variety of projects in different departments within the agency including business skills development, developing export plans, marketing, branding, design, and promotion. Interns will help develop, improve, and promote local products outside Mexico. This program requires a minimum commitment of 2 weeks and participants should have a background in finance, marketing, international business, design or other related areas. Please keep in mind that an intermediate level of Spanish is required.
We have exciting placements for marketing interns in Yucatan. Participants can work with museums, non profits and private companies in Merida. Interns can gain experience in a variety of aspects such as advertising, public relations, media planning, sales strategy and more. Interns will be able to work on specific projects, or be involved with long-term strategies.
An intermediate or advance level of Spanish is required for this position.
The Yucatan is a magical place where ancient Mayan culture mixes with modern technology and commerce. ELI works with local government organizations to provide unique internship opportunities where interns learn about the many different aspects of the tourism industry in Mexico. Interns work in a wide variety of arenas, from helping to develop new forms of tourism to working in public relations in the community, and more. Participants can choose from positions in the fields of Marketing, Ecotourism, Tourist Operations and Public Relations. These internships require a background in tourism, marketing, finance or related fields.
Interns in this program must have an intermediate level of Spanish, and commit to at least 6 months.
For participants seeking experience on the field of hospitality, ELI has oportunities working with big hotels in Mérida, where interns can learn about the work on a five stars hotel, managing high end pasengers and big groups of tourists.
Sea Turtle Conservation
Most species of sea turtles around the world are now considered endangered; many of them accidentally caught in fishing nets or poached for their meat or shells. Preserving the sea turtle population is vital in maintaining the natural equilibrium and biological diversity in Caribbean waters. ELI works with organizations in different centers around the Yucatan Peninsula that the sea turtles frequent during their nesting season from April to September and May to October. Placements take place in camps on beaches outside the city of Merida. Volunteers share basic cabins with other participants and sleep in hammocks. Participants on this project have the chance to go on night rounds to find nesting sites, work with the community to promote awareness of this issue, and collect data about progress on this project.
Volunteers for this program do not need to speak Spanish, but must be comfortable in a primarily Spanish speaking environment. Participants must be in good physical condition.
Take a break to volunteer in a Mayan community in the heart of the Yucatan. The people of the village of Yaxunah welcome volunteers as they attempt to better their community while protecting the environment.
Volunteers work on conservation and community development projects in the area. Projects include trail building and maintenance, efficient and clean wood stove construction, and cultural and recreational programs with local youth.
1 Week = $650
2 Weeks = $750
**There will also be an additional $100 nonrefundable application fee for each participant.
What’s Included Welcome at airport and transportation to Yaxunah
- Orientation and Introduction to Mexico
- Accommodations with a host family(private room and 3 meals per day)
- On-Call support through the duration of the project
- Bilingual In-Country Coordinator and Staff
- Travel assistance for weekend trips and local sight-seeing
What’s Not Included
- Airport/Exit Taxes
- Health and Accident Insurance
- Personal Expenses(including weekend trips and local site sight-seeing)
- Daily transportation to and from volunteer project